• Explosives detectionHomemade Explosive Characterization Program helps keep Americans safe

    Each day almost two million Americans travel on commercial aviation domestically and internationally, and in addition tens of millions use America’s mass transit systems. In recent months, several significant plots to take down commercial aircraft and attack public spaces have been thwarted due to the mitigation efforts of law enforcement and government counter terrorism agencies across the globe. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says it is at the forefront of the response to, and mitigation against, such plots against the homeland.

  • DetectionChemical detection sensors at the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub

    In New York, a new magnificent architectural wonder in white, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, also known as the Oculus, attracts tens of thousands of commuters and visitors every day. The Hub connects two subway systems and provides access to multiple buildings that make up the World Trade Center. However, even the most beautiful and useful places are not immune to danger from terrorist chemical attacks. DHS S&T entered into an agreement this spring with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to begin the design, establishment, operation, and maintenance of a chemical detection testbed for identifying hazardous gases.

  • Rail safetyConcerns about safety of rail transport of energy liquids, gases

    The U.S. increased production of crude oil, natural gas, and corn-based ethanol created unforeseen demands and safety challenges on their long-distance transportation via pipelines, tank barges, and railroad tank cars. A debate is underway about whether the domestic energy revolution was placing stress on the transportation system that would sacrifice safety.  

  • Rail safetyAverting disaster on railroad crossings

    The damsel in distress, tied up and left on the railroad tracks, is one of the oldest and most clichéd cinema tropes. This clichéd crime has connections to real, contemporary accidents that happen far more than they should. There are 200,000 crossings in the United States, and efforts to minimize the number of these crossings by creating overpasses, or elevating roadways are cost-prohibitive. Researchers found a better solution to reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings: The Ghost Train Generator.

  • TransportationSoft target, hard problem: Keeping surface transportation secure

    Maintaining security on the U.S. surface transportation systems takes significant resources and manpower, both which tend to be in short supply. What if there were a way to detect potential threats in bags or on persons from the moment they entered the subway? What if there was a way to know the path individuals take as they move through the system, and to relay that information to transit police in real-time?

  • AnthraxCleaning up subways after release of biological warfare agent such as anthrax

    If you’re like most people, you don’t spend much time thinking about what would happen if anthrax was released into your local subway system. But Sandia Lab engineer Mark Tucker has spent much of the past twenty years thinking about incidents involving chemical or biological warfare agents, and the best ways to clean them up. Tucker’s current project focuses on cleaning up a subway system after the release of a biological warfare agent such as anthrax.

  • TerrorismU.K. raises terror threat level after London terrorist attack

    British police is searching for those responsible for an IED explosion on a London subway train. Twenty-nine people were injured in the attack. Counterterrorism experts said the IED may have malfunctioned, thus averting a larger catastrophe. British prime minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, meaning an attack is expected soon.

  • Climate & transportationKeeping the trains running on time in the face of climate change

    There are many railway bridges around the world. In the United Kingdom alone there are more than 40,000 railway bridges. Each nation has employed its own methodology for maintenance and repairs of this essential infrastructure, but new, daunting challenges created by climate change — extreme heat, extreme cold, and severe flooding — require yet more rigorous solutions.

  • Car cybersecurityProtecting auto computer systems from hacks

    When you and your family are zooming along the freeway, the last thing you’re worried about is the security of your car’s computer systems. That’s one reason researchers work hard on protecting vehicles from cyberattacks. Computer engineering research team is focused on the security of wireless interfaces utilized by vehicles, the number of which will only grow as autonomous cars and trucks roll closer to reality. These interfaces in our vehicles, not unlike the computers in our homes and in our hands, can be susceptible to attacks, also known as hacks. The major difference is that attacks on a vehicle’s computer systems, which are connected to critical controls, can have potentially fatal consequences.

  • Autonomous vehicle cybersecurityPreventing autonomous vehicles from being hacked

    Although autonomous vehicles are essentially large computers on wheels, securing them is not the same as securing a communication network that connects desktop computers and smartphones to large geographical areas due to the roles that the sensors and actuators play in the physical layer of the network. Researchers have developed an intelligent transportation system prototype designed to avoid collisions and prevent hacking of autonomous vehicles.

  • Facial recognitionGermany testing face-recognition software to help police spot terrorists

    Germany will be testing facial recognition software at a Berlin train station this summer to see whether it can assist police identify terror suspects more quickly. Volunteers will help police test the software at Berlin’s Suedkreuz station. If the test is successful, the use of the biometric software would be expanded to other locations, and also used to help police identify criminals, not only people suspected of terrorist activities.

  • Flying carsUber picks Dallas, Fort Worth as test cities for flying vehicle network

    By Brandon Formby

    Uber is looking to North Texas as a testing ground for its initiative to make intra-urban flying vehicle rides a reality. The company announced Tuesday that Dallas and Fort Worth are its first U.S. partner cities for what its dubbing the “Uber Elevate Network.” The company hopes to have the first demonstration of how such a network of flying, hailed vehicles would work in three years. The company also tapped a Dallas real estate development firm and Fort Worth’s Bell Helicopter to develop pick-up and drop-off sites for electric vehicles that would take-off and land vertically.

  • Cow avoidanceAutomated, real-time automobile cow-avoidance device

    India has the second largest road network in the world, and a large number of traffic accidents: 1 in 20,000 people die there in a road traffic accident, and 12 in 70,000 are seriously injured in such accidents. India also has a large number of cows roaming streets and roads, and a large number of incidents in which cars run into loitering cows. India researchers have developed a real-time automatic obstacle detection and alert system which determines whether an object near the vehicle is an on-road cow and whether or not its movements represent a risk to the vehicle. If the cow poses a risk to the vehicle, an audio or visual indicator then alerts the driver to apply the brakes.

  • Earthquake early warningEarthquake early warning vital for city transit

    Although no one can reliably predict earthquakes, today’s technology is advanced enough to rapidly detect seismic waves as an earthquake begins, calculate the maximum expected shaking, and send alerts to surrounding areas before damage can occur. This technology is known as “earthquake early warning” (EEW). An EEW system called “ShakeAlert” is being developed and tested for the West Coast of the United States.

  • TerrorismAt least nine killed in St. Petersburg metro bombing

    At least nine people have been killed and about fifty more injured when a bomb exploded on a train in St. Petersburg. An explosive device went off at 2:20 p.m. local time on a train leaving the Technology Institute station and heading to the Sennaya Ploshchad station. All train travel in the St. Petersburg area has been suspended, and Russian security services found and defused another explosive device at the Ploschad Vosstaniya station.